My day began at 6 this morning and I've just now gotten home. I suppose that kind of schedule is good training for the life of a priest! Today the presbyterate of Sacramento welcomed their newest brothers: Fr. Arthur Najera and Fr. Hector Montoya. Then Deacon Arthur was at St. Patrick's for his last year in the seminary while I was in my first year. He's only been a priest for about nine hours and I still catch myself calling him Deacon instead of Father. We didn't have any classes together obviously, but Arthur impressed me as a deeply spiritual man devoted to the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have the utmost confidence in him. Fr. Arthur will be at St. Joseph's in Auburn as parochial vicar. His pastor will be our former vocations director Fr. Brian Atienza. Sorry Arthur, you haven't escaped him yet ;) Fr. Montoya will be at St. John the Baptist in Chico. We seminarians also got to meet our new vocations director: Fr. Chuck Kelly, formerly the pastor of St. Anthony's in Winters. Fr. Atienza will step down as vocations director and Fr. Kelly will take his place effective July 1. Thank you for all of your help Fr. Brian, and for all of your hard work on behalf of our diocese.
We also had a Jubilarians Dinner tonight for those celebrating their silver, gold, and diamond jubilees as priests. I have another six years in the seminary to go so I always enjoy these opportunities to meet the other priests of the diocese. It's inspiring and humbling to see these men who have devoted 25 years+ to the priesthood, through good times and bad. Several of us seminarians were sitting at the same table with our vocations-director-to-be before dinner began and the subject of our own calls came up. Fr. Kelly entered the seminary at 33 and was ordained at 39. He once asked his spiritual director, "How do I know for sure?" He answered, "You don't." I think a lot of men fall into that trap of thinking, "I'll go as soon as God makes it absolutely 100% clear to me that He wants me to be a priest." Well, that's not how our Lord works most of the time. The only way you'll know for sure is if you actually take that step of trying out your vocation. Every time I have to speak on vocations or at some diocesan event, I always make sure to ask at least one man there, "Young man, have you ever thought of being a priest?" God is the one who calls of course, but it's possible I'm planting the seed of someone's future vocation. And if this blog or if anything I say or do inspires even one vocation, then it's time and effort well spent.